Bison’s Historical Return To Kankakee Sands Preservekate_mullen@mac.com
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Conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends
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Where The Bison Roam
It is believed around 30 million bison roamed between the Appalachian Mountains on the east and the Rockies on the west during the time of Columbus. Unfortunately, railway construction to support the expansion out west and over-hunting brought the bison to near extinction leaving only 554 by 1888. Changes to the game laws and other protective measures allowed the surviving bison to prosper and regain their numbers. The herd at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota is unique, unlike other bison herds, this one was not bred with cattle, these bisons are the most genetically pure and diverse specimens.
The map, from The Nature Conservancy below, shows the bison’s historical range, as well as some of the places they can be found today. Their numbers are now around 350,000 and the bison can be found in all 50 states.
The Return to Kankakee Sands Preserve
Small bison herds once roamed the prairies of Indiana back in the 183os. The Nature Conservancy in partnership with have been working to restore the prairie fields and are now completing the system with the release of 23 bison in the Kankakee Sands Preserve. The bison will continue to heal the land, promote the growth of the prairie plants, and create biodiverse environments to support amphibians and other animals. There is an established viewing area with a small gravel parking lots with access to a few short trails. The bison herd is not free-range; the only herd to roam free is in Yellowstone, the bison are on two large fenced pastures about 1,000 acres altogether. It is located about 2 hours from South Bend.
The Nature Conservancy has ongoing efforts to preserve the American bison.